Our hope is to…spark a conversation within congregations and ministry leaders which might lead thechurch to recommit itself to its calling to foster and nurture faith, as it alsodiscovers and reimagines its ongoing ministry practices.
WHO AM I? FOUR FOUR QUESTIONS: SYMBOLS How did these elements come to be important in your life?Have these ever elements been challenged? How and what was it like? How might these elements besimilar and different to others in your family?
ONCE KNOWN AS A CHRISTIANNATION, TODAY THE UNITED STATES IS A RELIGIOUS MELTING POT. 2012 MARKS THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY WHERE THENUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS PROTESTANTS HAS DROPPED BELOW 50% OF THE POPULATION. TODAY MOST STATES (45 OF 52) HAVEBETWEEN 30-55% OF THEIR POPULATION WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIAN
THIS FACT MEANSCHRISTIANITY IS NO LONGER AMAJORITY RELIGION IN THE UNITEDSTATES; NOR IS ANY OTHER RELIGION.
THE CHURCH ONCE NURTUREDFAITH WITHIN A SOCIETY WHICHSUPPORTED, OR COMPLIMENTED, CHRISTIAN VALUES AND A CHRISTIAN RHYTHM OF LIFE.
Of the 13-18 year oldssurveyed in the National Study of Youth and Religion:
Of the 13-18 year oldssurveyed in the National Study of Youth and Religion:
Denominationally THEME 1 all major religious groups are experiencing decline.
A few major religious groups have experienced “Almost all some growth (more than 135,000)denominations Assemblies of God +14.9% +382,889 people +378 congregations losing ground, Church of Latter Day Saints +45.5% +1,920,556 people +2,086 congregations survey finds; Muslim estimate +66.7% +1,040,788 people +897 congregationsFaith is shifting, Seventh-Day Adventist +29.5% +271,950 people +1,158 congregations drifting or vanishing outright.” But most have experienced decline. ELCA -18.2% -893,932 people -893 congregationsHeadline from the United Church of Christ -24.4% -414,622 people -638 congregationsUSA Today, March Presbyterian (USA) -22% -689,586 people -619 congregations 2009 Episcopal Church -15.7% -362,849 people -520 congregations American Baptist Church -11.7% -206,890 people -312 congregations Lutheran Church Missouri Synod -9.9% -250,141 people -37 congregations Roman Catholic Church -5% -3,107,155 people -1,202 parishes United Methodists -4.7% -489,976 people -2,398 congregations
Religiously THEME 2Overall the “churched population” has declined.
In 2000, 50.2% of the total population reported a religious affiliation. In 2010, 48.8% of the total population reported a religious affiliation.The United States is becoming a less religious country.
• WHO ARE THE NONES? “One-fifth of the U.S. public are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. And, for adults under 30, it’s one- third! • Being a “none” or one with no religious affiliation does not mean lack of belief. “On the contrary, most of the “nones” say they believe in God, and describe themselves as religious, spiritual or both.” And while many “nones” believe in God, they are not interested in “church” (or organized religion) as many of us know it. • it’s time for congregations (or the organized church) to rethink what it means to journey with people currently participating in congregations, as well as those who believe in God yet are not connecting themselves to congregations.
Congregationally THEME 3 congregations are reporting to be less healthy
DAVID ROOZEN, IN A DECADE OFCHANGE IN AMERICA CONGREGATIONS 2000-2010, SAYS... The past decade brought: continued increase in innovative, adaptive worship surprisingly rapid adoption of electronic technologies dramatic increase in racial/ethnic congregations, many for immigrant groups general increase in the breadth of both member-oriented and mission-oriented programs The decade also saw: A steep drop in financial health Continuing high levels of conflict Aging memberships Hence, the net, overall Fewer persons in the pews result: Decreasing spiritual vitality
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?• Its not your fault! ... and you are not alone.• Its not enough ...to change worship styles or use a new curriculum. There is something bigger taking place.• Its time! ... the church must recognize and name the current situation.
THE CHURCHS CALL TO NURTURE FAITH HAS NOT CHANGED…BUT THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH IT DOES SO HAS CHANGED.
FAITH IS A GIFT• Faith is a gift from God, and gives Christians their identity.• Given by God, faith is the foundational for a Christian way of life. And faith informs and shapes who we are as Christians. This is a reality, a given.• .Yet faith, and being Christian, is dynamic. Just like our personal identity, our Christian identity is nurtured and fostered over time as people of faith explore what it means to live Christian.• Faith forms us, informs our way of life, and transforms us into children of God.
CHRISTIAN FAITH IS AN EMBODIED FAITH• Christian faith is not an abstract idea; it is an embodied faith, a faith which takes on flesh as people live in God’s world. This reality is most evident in the incarnation – in God coming to earth in the person of Jesus. In Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, God’s love and promises broke into the world in the flesh.• Jesus’ life centered on sharing God’s love by inviting people into a relationship with God and announcing the kingdom of God was near. Christians bring to life God’s mission as they live in the world, the world where God’s kingdom is unfolding but not fully realized.• This means Christians live confident of God’s promised future, while they are also aware of pain and brokenness in the present. Faith allows Christians to have an eye toward heaven, as they also have an eye toward the world.
FAITH IS PASSIVE,YET ACTIVE• Faith is passive, yet active . God freely offers faith to all people, and in this way, Christians are passive in faith. There is nothing humans do to receive faith, it is a free gift.• Yet faith is more than passive reception. Faith also summons a response, which overtime becomes a lifestyle. In this way, Christians are active in faith.• Through faith God’s people join God’s work in the world as they actively participate in God’s ongoing creative and redemptive mission of love.
A LIFE OF FAITH IS LIKE JAZZ • A life of faith is like jazz, a life of faith emerges as core beliefs meet improvisation within a particular rhythm. • People of faith are always living as God’s people within the particular realities of their lived experience in a broken, sinful world. These realities are put into conversation with God’s promise of love, seeking to discover what it means to live “Christian” in their distinct time and place.
ACTIVITY3-4 COMMITMENTS • Whats critical to a life of faith?
• the church’s role is to help people come to know and understand what it means to be Christian, and live Christian in one’s daily life.
AS CHRISTIANS EMBODY FAITH IN THE WORLD THEY ARE CALLED TO HELP EACH OTHER DISCOVER WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CHRISTIAN,BUT THEY ALSO ARE CALLED INTO THE WORLD TO LOVE THEIR NEIGHBOR.
DISCIPLESHI P-IDENTITY AS CHRISTIAN-LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR
• the church works at cultivating discipleship community as well as engaging culture .
• So what is it to live a Christian way of life within a religiously diverse culture?
FAITH WITH A MISSION4 COMMITMENTS AND 2 MOVEMENTS
• How has the gift of faith informed your life?• What does being in a relationship with God mean to you?• How has God’s love for you impacted how you love others? GIFT OF LOVE
• How has faith as a relationship with God, not a set of rules, informed your life?• How has the community of faith helped you discern a Christian way of life?• What does it mean to foster faith as a compass in the lives of young people? COMPASS FOR DAILY LIVING
WITNESS TO GODS STORY• How have others witnessed Gods love to you?• How have you experienced congregations witness to Gods love?• Why is it important to foster faith as witness? Especially young people?
• How has faith empowered you to be an agent of Gods love in the world? • How have you helped others discover their gifts and passions so they might participate in Gods mission? • What difference does it make for people to discover their agency and direct it toward Gods mission? How might we help young people with this?AGENT OF GODS LOVE
WHEN TWO OR ORE FATHER IN GODS NAME, GOD PROMISES TO BE PRESENT THESE TIMES ARE PLANNED, AND UNPLANNED. THEY INCLUDE UNIVERSAL PRACTICES,AND PRACTICES UNIQUE TO ONES TIME AND PLACE. IN COMMUNITY, CHRISTIANS DISCOVER WHAT IT IS TO BE CHRISTIAN.
How has the gathered community of faithhelped you discover your identity as achild of God?How has the gathered communityembodied the faith for you at a criticaltime in your life?What practices have been most impactfulfor you living your faith in your everydaylife?What practice or practices were mosthelpful in you learning the Christian story?
AWAY FROM CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY OURCHRISTIAN IDENTITY IS TEST AND CHALLENGED. YET OUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY IS SHAPED AS MUCH BY OUT TIMES APART AS IT IS WHEN GATHERED TOGETHER. LIVING CHRISTIAN MEANS BEING GODS LOVE IN THE WORLD - CREATIVELY AND REDEMPTIVELY.
• What are ways you have been part of Gods creative love in the world?• What are some ways you have been part of Gods redemptive love in the world?• What is most challenging for you as you seek to discover a Christian way of life scattered in the world? How could a community of faith help you?
• What stands out for you in the pattern of gathering and scattering? Whats similar and different for the current practices of your congregation?• How would this pattern help you, personally, discover a Christian way of life? What might it entail?• How might this pattern be a curriculum for helping young people discover a Christian way of life? How would this change your current practices?